To Have and To Hold
XVI. In Which I Am Rid Of An Unprofitable Servant
THE next day, Governor and Councilors sat to receive presents from the
Paspaheghs and to listen to long and affectionate messages from
Opechancanough, who, like the player queen, did protest too much. The Council
met at Yeardley's house, and I was called before it to make my report of the
expedition of the day before. It was late afternoon when the Governor dismissed
us, and I found myself leaving the house in company with Master Pory.
"I am bound for my lord's," said that worthy as we neared the guest house. "My
lord hath Xeres wine that is the very original nectar of the gods, and he drinks it
from goblets worth a king's ransom. We have heard a deal to-day about burying
hatchets: bury thine for the nonce, Ralph Percy, and come drink with us."
"Not I," I said. "I would sooner drink with - some one else."
He laughed. "Here's my lord himself shall persuade you."
My lord, dressed with his usual magnificence and darkly handsome as ever, was
indeed standing within the guest-house door. Pory drew up beside him. I was
passing on with a slight bow, when the Secretary caught me by the sleeve. At the
Governor's house wine had been set forth to revive the jaded Council, and he
was already half seas over. "Tarry with us, captain!" he cried. "Good wine's good
wine, no matter who pours it! 'S bud! in my young days men called a truce and
forgot they were foes when the bottle went round!"
"If Captain Percy will stay," quoth my lord, "I will give him welcome and good
wine. As Master Pory says, men cannot be always fighting. A breathing spell to-
day gives to-morrow's struggle new zest."
He spoke frankly, with open face and candid eyes. I was not fooled. If yesterday
he would have slain me only in fair fight, it was not so to-day. Under the lace that
fell over his wrist was a red cirque, the mark of the thong with which I had bound
him. As if he had told me, I knew that he had thrown his scruples to the winds,
and that he cared not what foul play he used to sweep me from his path. My spirit
and my wit rose to meet the danger. Of a sudden I resolved to accept his
"So be it," I said, with a laugh and a shrug of my shoulders. "A cup of wine is no
great matter. I'll take it at your hands, my lord, and drink to our better
We all three went up into my lord's room. The King had fitted out his minion
bravely for the Virginia voyage, and the riches that had decked the state cabin
aboard the Santa Teresa now served to transform the bare room in the guest
house at Jamestown into a corner of Whitehall. The walls were hung with arras,
there was a noble carpet beneath as well as upon the table, and against the wall
stood richly carved trunks. On the table, beside a bowl of late flowers were a
great silver flagon and a number of goblets, some of chased silver and some of
colored glass, strangely shaped and fragile as an eggshell. The late sun now
shining in at the open window made the glass to glow like precious stones.